Is rainwater clean to drink, for a shower or laundry? The Best Answer

There’s a lot of water in the world, but what about the water that falls from the sky? Is rainwater clean? It all depends on where you live, where it lands, and how you store it.  Here are some pros and cons of rainwater to help settle the issue once and for all.


What is rainwater?

Rainwater is a type of precipitation that falls as rain or snow. It is one of the primary sources of water on Earth. We have to contrast this with groundwater. Water evaporates due to heat. It is then transported due to wind and clouds. Eventually, this water falls down in the form of rain or snow when it arrives in cooler areas. Rain can have a white but also a yellow color.

Some areas get more rainwater than others. It can come down very fast in some instances and storm drains or tanks are sometimes installed to deal with this. Some places even have advanced drainage systems so that the area doesn’t flood.

In a house, groundwater and city water are often used as well.

Groundwater is the water that fills the underground spaces in soil and rock formations. It is typically found within a layer of porous material, like rocks or soil. When rain falls on the ground, some of it seeps down into this underground layer and collects in groundwater.

City water is water that has been cleaned and tested by the local government. They have to assure the cleanliness of the water. It is still possible that your own pipes are breaking down and making the water dirty. It is not allowed to use city water and rainwater in the same device or faucet as dirty rainwater can contaminate the city water installation.

Rainwater falls on dirty surfaces such as roofs and walkways.

If this happens, they have to clean a lot of homes. For this reason, homes and faucets often need to have a safety valve that makes sure that rainwater and city water doesn’t get mixed. 

Is rainwater dirty? Can you drink it, use it in a shower or for laundry?

Rain water is not drinkable. You also can’t use it in a shower or to do laundry. It contains too many contaminants. Furthermore, it is difficult to control the quality of it as it is refilled often.

Rainwater is generally only used to flush toilets, water plants, and wash cars. It shouldn’t be used for other things given that the water can contain dirt or dust.

Rain is a natural phenomenon that happens all the time. It falls from the sky as water, which is needed for plants to grow. However, there are some places in the world where rainwater is not clean enough to drink because it’s contaminated with pollutants such as chlorine and other toxins.

This is generally the case because a lot of traffic or industrial exhausts pollute the rainwater. This is sometimes referred to as acid rain as the rainwater is too acid to drink and can even break down buildings.

In other areas of the world, rainwater may be contaminated by sewage or animal waste. Therefore rainwater can be dirty, especially if it is not properly stored. A test is needed to see what elements it contains.

When rain falls on your roof, it can start to flow into your home through the plumbing system. Given that rainwater comes in contact with dirty roofs and gutters, it shouldn’t be used to drink except if it is filtered. You can also let your water test to see if it contains pollutants.

Rainwater is often used to wash the car or to flush toilets. Rainwater can be used to water plants. Some people use it for their washing machine as well. 

It is generally not used in a dishwasher, to showers or to cook with. City water is generally used for this as this water is tested to make sure that it is safe. The problem with rainwater is that the quality can fluctuate and it is not tested.

Water can contain a lot of bacteria and things that could make you feel uncomfortable. For this reason, you have to be careful when you drink it. It is possible that more advanced filters will be available that allow you to use rainwater for more applications in a home but these are not readily available. 

 Rainwater collection

Rainwater needs to be stored. This is done in a rain barrel or an underground rainwater tank. It is important that you do this in a clean manner. If it is in an open vat, insects and animals can pollute the water. For this reason, rainwater is often stored under the ground. Even then it is important that you clean the tank from time to time to remove sediment.  

It is also important that you clean gutters every year. They can contain leaves and dirt that can contaminate the water. This can lead to clogs and other issues. We have discussed how gutters can be cleaned HERE

Filters can be used to remove sand and sediment from rainwater. Getting it completely clean can require advanced and expensive filters. Most people don’t own these as it is cheaper to just use city water. This water has been cleaned and checked by the local city. In some rural areas, it might not be possible to use city water, and then well water is often used. Bottled water is also tested and checked. 

Water processing facilities were not always able to process all the water when there was a storm. For this reason, they are often requiring that you have a rainwater tank or at least a system that can distribute the water over your garden.

This makes sure that streets don’t flood and that water processing facilities don’t have to dump dirty water in rivers. People often use a pump to get the rainwater out of their underground tanks and in their toilets. 


Rainwater is not always clean.  Rainwater can be polluted by chemicals in the air and runoff from infested animals or plants. It’s important to make sure that your rain barrels are cleaned out regularly so that they don’t become an easy way for pollutants to enter your supply. 

For this reason, it is generally only used to flush the toilets, wash the car, washing machine, and water the plants. It is not used for consumption as the quality can’t be guaranteed. It is also unpredictable. This can make it abundant at one point and scarce at another. Storing rainwater is possible but comes with its own unique set of challenges and infrastructure. 

More and more houses will have to install a rainwater tank. This water can be used to flush the toilets and clean the car. It also makes sure that the wastewater processing plants don’t get overwhelmed when there is a big rain storm.

These tanks can range in size. Some of them can contain a lot of water. These tanks need to be cleaned and maintained. You will need a specialized company to install them.

Rain water tanks are generally made out of concrete or plastic. They shouldn’t be confused with septic tanks as they have different functions.